The Scoop: Miss Filatelista is a travel journal written by Lola Méndez that encourages people to see the world in a responsible and sustainable way. Lola is an eco-advocate who is passionate about giving back to the local communities and natural habitats she explores. During the coronavirus pandemic, many couples have been stuck at home dreaming of their next vacation, and Miss Filatelista can offer tips to help them plan a whirlwind international date once it’s safe.
On Sept. 1, 2015, Lola Méndez, aka Miss Filatelista, left the United States on the journey of a lifetime. She was 25 years old and wanted to see the world. More than that, she wanted to do some good in the world.
Lola said she had been happy with her job as a senior manager at a branding agency in New York City, but part of her was eager to push her boundaries and explore other cultures. So, she left her career in the fashion industry, said goodbye to her parents in Pompano Beach, Floria, and went to Latin America to rediscover her family roots and forge a new path.
As she visited different communities, Lola gained an appreciation for how the tourism industry can impact local people’s lives. She worked as a marketing director for a marketplace of tourism experiences in Florence, Italy.
Lola soon caught the eco-travel bug and began sharing her insights in an online travel journal.
Today, Lola writes a travel blog under the moniker Miss Filatelista and has been to 64 countries in her life. Filatelista means stamp collector in Spanish and is a reference to the stamps she collects on her passport.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, Lola has had to hit pause on her globetrotting ways, and that has given her time to reflect on her lifestyle and the experiences that touched her the most. She told us that traveling to new destinations can enrich a person’s understanding of the world, and it can inspire romantic connections as well.
“I’ve been fortunate to date people who understand that travel is important to me,” Lola said. “Many of them have come along for the ride.”
Look for Cultural Experiences Off the Beaten Path
Lola is a mindful traveler, which means she isn’t just in it for the Instagram pictures and passport stamps. She seeks to immerse herself in the culture of a foreign country and explore its sights from a local’s point of view.
Over the last three years, Lola has only visited 13 new countries. She said she has favored long-term stays because spending one month, three months, or six months in a new destination allows her to get to know the area and the people on a deeper level. She has learned to look for the hidden gems that may not be on the typical tourist route but can offer interesting and unique experiences.
“There is something wonderful about every place I’ve visited,” Lola said. “Each one offers a unique experience, so it’s hard to compare them. I can’t pick a favorite place, and I definitely don’t have a least favorite place.”
Lola said she considers Spain to be one of the most romantic destinations in the world. But she admitted she might be biased because she fell in love in Spain. She and her boyfriend at the time had many fun date nights sharing tapas and going on hikes. Lola’s skills as a Spanish speaker were also put to the test by the many dialects spoken in each region of the country.
Lola has taken multiple trips to Vietnam to explore its villages, beaches, and mountains. The coastal town of Hoi An particularly enamored Lola because of its multicultural influences. Hoi An creates a romantic backdrop for a date during its monthly lantern festival, which celebrates the full moon by filling the streets with light.
The Miss Filatelista blog highlights eco-luxury travel experiences as well as budget-friendly tips to help people from all walks of life go beyond their borders. Lola recommended Indonesia as an affordable destination for Western travelers looking to get away. She said the private villas, dining options, and massage services were priced low enough to ensure visitors can live like kings without breaking their budget.
Whether she’s highlighting spa treatments in Ubud or village hotels in Singapore, Lola promotes ethical resources that don’t skimp on quality and can offer amazing experiences to solo travelers, couples, and families from all over the world.
Always Travel With Compassion & Curiosity
The central message of the Miss Filatelista blog is to be mindful of one’s travel footprint and the impact it can have on the environment and local people. Lola has developed a myriad of strategies and best practices to ensure her visit is a net positive for the world.
Eco-conscious travelers can sometimes let their fears and concerns hold them back, but Lola encourages her readers to cope with eco-guilt and keep moving forward.
“I’m not perfect, by any means,” she said. “It’s important to be honest about our pitfalls and use that as motivation to make a better decision next time.”
Over the years, Lola has welcomed tens of thousands of people to the world of eco-friendly travel. She shares her experiences in her blog to show readers what’s possible and give them ideas to make their next trip a little greener.
Of course, the meaning of responsible travel has changed quite a bit in 2020. Lola was in Uruguay visiting her parents in March when the country had its first case of community spread and shut down the airport. She’s been in Uruguay ever since.
“I’m choosing to be stationary until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine as I feel it’s the responsible thing to do,” she said.
During the early days of the pandemic, Lola shifted gears, canceled her travel plans (including a summer Europe trip and a Galapagos tour), and began recommending home-bound activities for avid travelers.
Although international travel is complicated right now, Lola said she has used this opportunity to connect with her family and explore Uruguay’s lesser known destinations. She recently drove six hours to see the tallest waterfall in the country. She said she made sure to thoroughly sanitize her rental car and hotel, and she limited human interactions while indulging in her favorite form of eco-therapy.
Lola said she has also been making tentative travel plans for 2021 and looking forward to returning to her globetrotting ways as soon as it’s safe to do so.
“If anything, this moment of feeling grounded has made me appreciate my travel lifestyle more than ever,” she said. “I can’t wait to reunite with the world.”
Miss Filatelista Continues Seeking New Horizons
As a travel blogger and journalist, Lola is constantly learning new things, meeting new people, and discovering new experiences around the world. She has found happiness and fulfillment by supporting ethical tourism and encouraging fellow adventure seekers to pack their bags and visit foreign shores.
Miss Filatelista has many responsible travel resources that couples can use to plan a world-class date. The blog recommends eco-friendly vendors and sustainable practices that ensure visitors have a positive impact on the world they’re so keen to see.
“All the different things I write about — travel, veganism, social justice — are under the umbrella of mindful living,” Lola said. “Taking care of our planet, taking care of our bodies, taking care of each other — for me, that’s a mindful approach to life.”